Smith seeks investigation into skyrocketing natural gas prices during the storm
She did not estimate the impact on ordinary household heating customers. However, Xcel Energy, the state’s second-largest natural gas utility company, said they initially estimated that the average residential customer bill for February this year was about $50. It is now estimated to be much higher.
Amy Liberkowski of Xcel Energy told PUC: “Due to the recent surge in natural gas prices, we initially believe that we have brought about $300 to each resident customer.”
The increase in prices is mainly due to the rare winter cold drop in the southern United States, while the temperature in the north is below zero. However, Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota called for an investigation to ensure that natural gas suppliers are not involved in price fraud during cold weather.
PUC passed a formal survey with a 5-0 vote to investigate the impact of national price spikes on customers and the state̵
Considering the seriousness of the problem, assistance from the state and federal governments may be needed. “PUC chairman Katie Sieben talked about the impact on residential users.
In the press release after the meeting, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and PUC outlined the focus of the investigation.
“While Minnesota people have a reliable incentive to keep light and keep warm, the committee was informed that certain utilities must purchase natural gas at least fifty times the average price from February 12 to February 17. Officially. The investigation will review the impact and find ways to mitigate the impact on utility customers.”
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Although prices in Minnesota will rise sharply, they will probably not appear on the bill for months when the PUC investigates the reasons for the price increase.
At the hearing, the regulated natural gas utility company that serves most of Minnesota reported that the unexpected natural gas costs that occurred in mid-February will not be immediately shown in customer bills, but may be delayed for several months, pending PUC approval.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is also monitoring price increases.
Ian Dobson of the Attorney General’s Office said: “Although there has obviously never been a good time to experience a spike in commodity prices like this, this may be the worst time this could happen to us. Said that due to the pandemic, many customers have fallen behind paying their bills.
Governor Tim Walz also assessed the issue late Tuesday.
He said in a statement: “Although we are just beginning to understand the impact of the skyrocketing natural gas prices last week, it is important that we work together and actively mitigate the impact on households and small businesses.” “I’m very happy for public utilities. The Career Commission began an investigation, and my government will advocate for Minnesota taxpayers in the process through the Department of Commerce.”